WordPress is free. So why use premium WordPress themes and plugins? It’s a good question, and we’ve got lots of answers.
Free vs. Premium
First and foremost, what’s the difference between free and premium WordPress themes and plugins? Free themes and plugins are, well, free. You can grab them right now, no strings attached, no money down. For premium themes and plugins, you have to pony up some dinero.
The main difference? You get what you pay for. Free themes and plugins are often barebones. Updates are infrequent and not guaranteed. Sometimes the developer takes some shortcuts or writes sloppy code. Premium themes and plugins usually come with support and updates. They often have more features and goodies. The code is often clean and ready to rock.
This isn’t always the case—we’re generalizing. There are certainly some awesome free themes and plugins. There are also a few premium themes and plugins that aren’t worth the money you pay. But in general, you get what you pay for.
OK, so we’re iThemes, maker of premium WordPress themes and plugins. We kind of have a vested interest in getting people to use premium WordPress themes and plugins.
Yes, we’re biased.
But we do what we do because we love it, and we believe in it. We’re not some fly-by-night operation. We’ve got 20 employees and roots in Oklahoma City. We’re sticking around. We believe in premium WordPress themes and plugins because paying for something ensures long-term sustainability.
It’s about going far together. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. By paying for products, there’s a viable business model. Our employees get to eat. And as a paying customer, you get a better product you can rely on, now and into the future. Plus, you get guaranteed support and updates.
Learn more about what iThemes is all about from our founder, Cory Miller.
Yes, we’ve got a financial stake. But we’ve also got a stake in our customers. We’re here to do business, and doing it well means working in partnership with our customers. If it’s not worth it to you, it won’t be worth it to us.
So, why use premium WordPress themes and plugins?
9 Reasons Why You Should Pay
1. You Want Help
One of the biggest reasons to go with premium themes and plugins is because most of them come with guaranteed support. You get help when you need it.
Some free themes offer help, but only when the developer isn’t busy. Assuming you’re willing to wait around. And if you can’t wait? Tough luck.
But premium themes usually come with robust support. You can get questions answered. You can figure out how to do something and get back to work.
2. You Want to Be Current
You have to keep your software current. When WordPress rolls out an update, themes and plugins often have to be updated. Sometimes it’s minor stuff, but sometimes a WordPress update will introduce new features or break old ones. If no one is around to keep that old free plugin updated, it could stop working. Or worse, it could become a security threat.
3. Quality Matters
Sometimes you get what you pay for. Free themes are notorious for being poorly coded or stingy on the features. What do you expect? But premium themes and plugins usually go the extra mile. People are paying for it, so the quality goes up a notch (or two or three).
If you want your site to work right all the time, then pay for it. Quality is worth the price.
Let’s be honest: Not all free themes and plugins are crap. There are some incredible free themes and plugins out there. But in general you get more power, more customization, more options, and more specialized features with premium themes and plugins.
4. Be an Original
A big downside to free themes is that everybody uses the good ones. As you browse the web, you start to notice sites looking familiar. It’s not a big deal, but if you want to be unique and original, you’ll have to shell out some extra dollars.
Premium themes are used way less frequently than free themes. Plus, many premium themes have customizable options that keep your site looking unique. Maybe you can’t afford a completely custom design, but if originality is important, it’s worth paying a little more for a premium theme and having a look that’s your own.
5. Crazy Awesome Stuff
If you want to have the latest, greatest, craziest features, then pay up. Some of the most powerful plugins that really take WordPress to another level are going to cost you. And the latest WordPress features usually require the most current themes.
Those impressive features take a lot of smart coding to implement, they need a lot of good support to help people use them and they require updates to stay current and stable. That all costs money.
There are plenty of cool features available in free plugins—let’s not discount that. But for some of the biggest and baddest features—we’re talking ecommerce, backup, membership—the best plugins are premium.
6. Safe and Secure
Free themes, specifically those available outside of the WordPress theme directory, are notorious for being packed with malicious code. This issue has gotten better as WordPress has matured, but it’s still a very real threat. Hackers prey on people looking for free themes and then sabotage those themes with backdoors and other tricks they can exploit.
If you want to go the free route, make sure you only choose themes from the WordPress theme directory. If you really want to feel safe and secure, go for a premium theme. Rest easy knowing a reputable premium theme creator will stand by their work.
7. Support the Community
Let’s get touchy-feely: WordPress is a community. It’s an open source software project that exists because developers have been generous with their time and talents.
By going the premium route, you’re supporting the WordPress economy and helping this community grow. You’re helping some developers make a living.
You’re not a freeloader. Give back.
(And even if you do go the free route, you should still support the community. Many free themes and plugins take donations to support their work. You can also find other ways to give back to WordPress.)
WordPress is an incredible gift, and we’re thankful for it. But not everything can be free. Premium offerings push the community farther and faster.
8. Get Some Perspective
We’ve given a bunch of reasons why you should pay up for premium themes and plugins. We think it’s worth paying for good stuff. But another helpful reason is simply to step back and get some perspective.
What do premium themes and plugins really cost in the grand scheme of things? Theme prices range from a few bucks to a few hundred, and most plugins are in the same range (higher prices are usually for high-end products or multi-site developer licenses). Even if you bought an entire pile of plugins and a really fancy theme, you’re walking away with a ridiculous amount of coding power for under $1,000.
That’s a bargain. If you were hiring developers to code all of this for you, you’d be paying magnitudes more. So yes, premium themes and plugins do cost more than free ones. But it’s still way cheaper than hiring custom coders.
Better WordPress Websites
So why use premium WordPress themes and plugins? You get better quality and better service, for one. Yes, we are biased. But this goes to the heart of our business model, and it really comes down to supporting the community and getting better products for our customers.